Sunday Morning Meditation – Buy In

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 25, 2016

I could write this a thousand different ways, but I don’t think I could compose a more passionate and touching defense of local news than the ode delivered by John Oliver a few weeks ago.

For those of you who missed it, the core message is this: local news, especially the kind of local news Decaturish does, is under assault.

We feel the financial pressures keenly. Our business involves a product that we give away for free every day. There’s no pay wall here, and I don’t think there should be. The time for newspapers to put up pay walls was 15 years ago. People are used to having easy access to information. They need it.

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I view my job as providing the news, as impartially as I can, to as many people as possible. Sticking that behind a paywall means it will only be accessible to those who can afford it, but no one can afford to be ignorant about what’s going in their communities. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to create a community of have and have nots when it comes to information. Everyone needs to know what’s up. Everyone needs to be empowered to make wise decisions. That’s our mission.

For the last two years, we’ve had a core group of 200 or so subscribers. The number fluctuates a bit. It seems like every time we lose someone, we get someone back. The reasons we lose people usually come down to personal finances. I’ve never had someone tell me they are no longer supporting us because they don’t care about what we do. I’m glad I can say that. But the reality is that the 200 or so people we have is far less than the 50,000 unique visitors this site draws every month. If even a fraction of you became a subscriber, today, the possibilities for what Decaturish could do are amazing.

For instance, if we had 2,000 subscribers:

1) We could ensure that nearly every local meeting gets covered. Right now we can only cover the meetings that I have time to get to when I can’t afford to send a freelancer. But there’s a lot that goes on. There are planning meetings, neighborhood meetings and input meetings that come up that might be important but we just can’t get to them. There’s so much more going on than we have time and resources to cover.

2) We could publish more in-depth investigative pieces. I love to do investigative reporting, but it takes time. Since my duties include managing the business side of Decaturish, I don’t always have the time to devote to these projects. But there are secrets that need to be uncovered and stories that aren’t getting told. I do what I can, but in my heart I know it’s not enough.

3) We could make more investments to improve our site. As we’ve gotten bigger and posted more content, technical issues have reared their ugly heads. They’re unavoidable, but fixing them requires skills that are far above my pay grade. I’d like to make the site a little cleaner and more user friendly.

4) We could sponsor community events. I’ve wanted to do things like sponsor forums, debates, and social events, but there’s a cost to doing those things and pretty much every dollar I make is spoken for. I do think we have enough social clout at this point to put on successful events that will enrich the community we live in. Our financial clout is another matter.

5) We could put out a print product. I know this sounds backwards, but hear me out. A surprising amount of advertisers want print. In fact, we have left money on the table because we didn’t have a print product available. The reasons for this are varied, but I think there’s a certain kind of prestige with print advertising that older business owners just like. I haven’t launched a print product because the cost of producing one is eye-popping. You also have to pay people to copy edit it and design it, on top of paying people to produce the content. But do I think people would like a niche print product from Decaturish that they can pick up in the coffee shop or at the doctor’s office? Yeah, I do. Do I think advertisers would pay to be there? Pick up any local print product and tell me what you think.

Those are the first five ideas that come to mind, but I’m sure I could come up with some other things. And yes, I’m trying to make a living here, too. I’ve got a sweet baby boy to take care of. But the bulk of what I make goes right back into making this product better.

People get it. They like us. They’ve voted us as the best local blog three years in a row. But if the community wants a dedicated news source that will be around long-after I’m pushing up daisies, then Decaturish needs the community’s support.

That’s why I’m calling for the community to step up once again to support local news. In an effort to give people some more flexibility, I’ve added two new payment plans.

In addition to our $12.99 a month plan and $6 a month plan, I’ve added an option to subscribe for $3 a month and yearly subscription for $60. I’ve found that different people like different methods of billing and not everyone can afford $6 or $12.99 a month, or find it’s too pricey for the product. Some people don’t like paying a monthly subscription.

But seriously, $3 a month for free community news? You’ll spend more than that getting a cup of coffee.

If you value what we do, please consider becoming a subscriber. Support your local news.

To subscribe for $3 a month, click here.

To subscribe for $6 a month, click here.

To subscribe for $12.99 a month, click here.

To subscribe for $60 a year, click here.

To make a contribution without a recurring subscription, click here.

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About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

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